There are rare occasions where we all have the opportunity to come in contact with excellence. I had one of those opportunities recently. I met and chatted with Sara Gruen the author of several NYT best sellers including Water for Elephants. Sara is a delightful person. She’s vivacious, quick witted, empathetic, attractive, deeply intelligent, and possesses a wonderful sense of humor. Those are wonderful characteristics, but I’ve met many authors that share them. They aren’t a reason to read an authors work.
You MUST read Sara Gruen’s works. They’re not the fluff that is seen so often on the best seller lists. I’ve read some of the promo “blurbs” written about her most recent novel “At the Waters Edge.” They are shallow and inadequate to describe her writing. Here are some reasons.
Sara Gruen is a master story teller, true, but the story she tells has purpose; it awakens the brain. Like most great writers, she uses the heart as the key to unlock her readers mental process. She creates “normal” people caught in abnormal conditions to explore their humanity. There are no cliches – not in her stories, plots, characters, or approach. She is a professor of the human condition. She writes in a manner that BOTH women and men will enjoy. It is apparent when you read her work that Sara’s writing objective goes FAR past simply getting another book into print!
From a craft POV, Sara’s superb. Her dialog is outstanding (those writers struggling with attribution can read her work as a text), she has a wonderful talent in converting narrative to interpersonal related exchanges, her sense of timing and logical pace are spot on, and her simple, superior vocabulary choices augment the novel’s thread.
A couple of lines from the At the Waters Edge tell so much about the central character and the clean, clear style that Sara writes.
When Anna went back to mopping, I got my coat.
When I did the rooms that morning, I’d noticed he was down to five pills. I knew he must be desperate to get more and wondered why he didn’t just come out and ask me, like he always did. Maybe he didn’t want to ask in front of Hank, I didn’t know—-but whatever the reason, I was grateful because I couldn’t have helped him anyway. I’d flushed the rest of the pills down the toilet.
Sara and I share a belief. We believe that readers have a desire to learn, and in order to provide that experience, we believe in research. It is so apparent in Water for Elephants, Ape House, and At the Waters Edge. Her most recent novel, At the Waters Edge, blends World War II Britain, the Lock Ness Monster, strong Scottish flavor, with the over-powering demands made of people (like you and me) in such trying times. Like you and me, her characters are complex … they have needs and desires that clash with societal needs and their associates wants.
I’d suggest that any serious reader, any writer that wants to expand their literary thinking, and anyone who simply wants to be entertained … read Sara’s books.
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